Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flat Book Shelf How-to

Our home is small, about 1600 sq/ft, so I am on a mission to create as much out of the way storage as possible.  It feels like a loosing battle, but I suppose with 2 young children most mothers feel like this with or without more square footage.  You might wonder why I don't buy furniture to solve my problems?   My answer to that question is that most of the furniture out there is too expensive, it doesn't fit the space available, and just doesn't suit all of our needs.  Most importantly, I know that I can make it myself, build it better, and use quality materials.  No particle board here, thank you.

So, my storage solution for my boys books was inspired by the Ana Whites Flat Wall Book Shelves.  I wanted to maximize my storage and make a good use of space in our already cramped home.

Where is this magical place?  Behind the bedroom door, of course!

I measured, and the flat book shelf could be 24.5 inches wide without being flush with the trim and still allowing the door handle to open past the shelving unit so that it doesn't hit it.

That means 6 23inch long shelves of yummy book storage.

  • 2 1x3x6s poplar
  • 2 1x3x8s poplar
  • 5 1x2x8s poplar
  • 1 1/4inch screws
  • 1 5/8inch screws
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Wood glue
  • 6 1x3s at 23 inches
  • 3 1x2s at 23 inches
  • 12 1x2s at 24.5 inches
  • leave 2 1x3x6s unmolested, unless you have to trim one to make it exactly the same length as the other.  I had to trim a bit off the top of one of my 1x3x6s.
I started by cutting and sanding all of my pieces.

Since I love Becky's rustic, carefree style, I decided to experiment a bit myself.  For me this meant not worrying if you could see my screws!  Believe me, you can build this sucker with hidden pocket holes, keeping all your screws hidden, but I just wanted to see what it would look like with my own rustic and carefree style.

This piece would be mounted to the wall with 3 1x2 attached at the top, middle, and bottom of the piece.  Two of these pieces would be attached to the bottom of 1x3 shelves.  I attached the 1x2 to the bottom of the 1x3 shelf with 3 1 1/4 screws drilled straight down.  I predrilled a hole for each and every screw to prevent the wood from splitting.

Now to put it all together.  I decided on the height of my shelves as follows; starting from the bottom, 12", 16", 10", 16", 12", and leaving the top shelf to the rest.  That leaves room for tall books small books and hopefully anything in between.  I dry fit the pieces a few times until I found the measurements that I liked for the shelf heights.

It was hard finding a place to put this sucker together this winter, since I don't have a garage, but I made room one afternoon, when my helper was sick and his younger brother was napping.

If I owned more than 2 clamps in the relevant sizes, then I would have been able to finish this project much faster.  The shelves went in first, clamped and glued, and finally predrilled holes for the screws.

With all the shelves in place, I added the front slats to keep the books from falling out when placed on the shelves comic-book-style.

NOTE:  My original plan had been to go all rustic with all screws drilled straight in from the front and sides, but I felt that with a 1x2, the screws needed to attach the 1x2 to the 1x3 shelf, would just be too much, so I added pocket holes after the fact.  Still do-able as you can see but a pain.

And every Mama needs some more help.

With the pocket holes drilled and sanded, I added my front slats.

And yes, usually parts or most of my house are in dissarray most of the time.  It is a constant battle, and I have decided to stop trying to hide it.  I do not live in a picture perfect home, nor do I have a cleaning service to help me clean my home.

Now that it is put together, it is truth time.

And the dry fit looks good!  Yay!

Next my son chose a reddish Lowes oops paint for the color.  He painted a whole 2 slats before he got disinterested.   Sigh....  Mama painted the rest, sanded and distressed the paint.  I decided to distress the paint work so that the dings and nicks my boys will surely add won't be so noticeable.  :)

Finally, I added 2 coats of Polycrylic clear coat, and my biggest project EVER was ready for installation.

With my father's help (Thanks Grandpa!), we attached the bookcase by drilling into the studs with 2.5" screws (yay, stud finder) and using the 3 panels I built in to do the job, one at the top, one in the middle under the 3rd shelf and one at the bottom under the last shelf.

So, on the off chance my boys try to use it as a ladder, it won't fall off the wall.

Now you see it.  

Now you don't.

And look at that doorknob clearance!

I think it is pretty perfect and functional.  No more books on the floor.  No more books piled precariously on the dresser or desk.

I hope this was helpful to someone else in a tight squeeze.

I will conquer you small house!  You will not conquer me.


Linked up at the parties below:

Sew-Many_Ways Nap-Time Creations button House on the Way Beyond The Picket Fence Make It and Love It


  1. how come noone has commented on this! I love it! And I know that some women in Iceland have looked at this, loved it and did as you did ;)

    1. Thank you, Alda. It sure has proved very useful, and it was very easy to make.